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Managing Unwanted Medications

Leftover or expired drugs can pose a number of serious environmental and health risks. If not disposed, unused drugs can lead to accidental poisonings, addiction or abuse. Drugs can also have health and environmental impacts when they end up in a landfill or are flushed down the toilet or drain. Wastewater treatment plants and septic systems are usually not equipped to treat pharmaceuticals and chemical compounds from these drugs can pass through treatment plants or septic systems to our rivers or groundwater. 

Disposal recommendations for household pharmaceuticals

prohibited.pngDo not dispose of pharmaceuticals down a drain or toilet or burn them with household waste. Instead, choose one of these options:

Option 1

Dispose of unwanted pharmaceuticals at a designated drug take-back collection site, through free mail-back service, or at a collection event.

Collection sites and mail-in options: 

Find a collection site to drop off unwanted medicines in-person, or get a prepaid and preaddressed envelope to mail in your unwanted medicines, through the Oregon Drug Take-Back Program here:

You may also check the DEA website and possibly your local jurisdiction for other collection sites. 

Collection events:

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency usually holds annual drug take-back events in April and October for National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

Option 2

If no sites or events are available, dispose of waste pharmaceuticals in the trash using these basic guidelines:

  1. Take waste pharmaceuticals out of their original containers and mix with an undesirable substance such as used cat litter, or coffee grounds.

  2. Place this mixture in a plastic bag or other sealable container, such as an empty plastic container.

  3. Place the sealed container with the mixture in the trash as close to garbage pickup time as possible, to prevent theft and misuse.


Michael Lee 
Drug Take-Back Program Coordinator

Visit DEQ's Drug Take-Back page to learn more about this program